Danny Lyon is a self-taught American photographer and filmmaker whose first book,a study of outlaw bikers and racers, The Bikeriders, has become the foremost photographic historical treatise on what it meant to be a biker in the midwest during the mid-1960′s.
To realize his masterwork, Lyon joined the Chicago Outlaws motorcycle club and traveled with them, sharing their lifestyle and attempting “to record and glorify the life of the American bikerider.”
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club was originally established out of Matilda’s Bar on Route 66 in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago back in 1935. By 1950, the club had expanded and most of the members were from the Chicago area. It was during the mid 1960′s that Lyon hooked up with the club and began riding with, and photographing, the life of the club’s members.
His work speaks for itself.
Lyon later published Conversations with the Dead in 1971, an amazing work released with the cooperation of the Texas Department of Corrections. Lyon’s work documented the conditions in six prisons over fourteen months from 1967 to 1968. Lyon, horrified by the conditions in the penal system of Texas, said he sought to clue viewers in to a truth he saw as unacceptable.
“I tried with whatever power I had to make a picture of imprisonment as distressing as I knew it to be in reality,” Lyon said.